That's me!
It's not uncommon to go to Hawaii and try your hand at surfing. Waikiki is perfect for it because the long shallows allow for rather gentle rolling waves for the beginner surfer. This is where I took a surfing lesson myself about ten years ago. The instructor helped me out, helped me catch the first wave, and easily enough, I got up and surfed slowly into shore. I was thrilled.

The thrill wore off as I paddled out again. For those not used to it, it's murder on your neck and shoulders. You have to lift your upper torso up and paddle out. After only a few minutes my shoulders were screaming. I went one more run and then gave up. To try again in the future would mean doing shoulder exercises before I went.  Why can't they just have motorized boards to take you out and then catch the wave for the ride back?

Then surfing pools started showing up, particularly on cruise ships. You see those enticing commercials of folks enjoying their wonderful cruise and there they are surfing, on the top deck of a ship! This was the surfing for me. A safe environment with little water and no paddling involved.

Now we have that same opportunity here in nearby Elk Grove. SurfXtreme has the same indoor surfing facility like the cruise ships and I just had to go and give it a try. 

At SurfXtreme you can buy hour long sessions. After watching a brief video, you go in with a group of about ten. As you can see in the video, they can split the wave pool in two. There's only about three inches of water shooting over the surface. Underneath the water it is a stretched rubber sheet that is very bouncy like a trampoline. When you fall, you bounce. It's a little jarring, to be sure, but not too bad.


My friend and I went on Presidents Day. Two 48 year old women and the rest were kids under the age of 15. LOL!  You can either do boogie/knee boards or you can do flowboards and try to surf upright.  Our first two runs we did the boogie boards to get used to the wave pool. Then we moved up to flowboards.

The instructors are very helpful. They give you tips, position you, and hold the board for a while as you get the feel of it.  We got up every time....we just didn't stay up very long.

SurfXtreme is at 3443 Laguna Blvd in the Elk Grove sports complex. They also have trampoline rooms and paintball.

General Surfing Adult Admission

1 hr session (non-member): $19.95

1 hr session (member): $17.95

2nd hour (non-member): $12.95

2nd hour (member): $9.95

Click here for more stories like this: Fun Things to Do 

Ali Baba's Kabob House on Urbanspoon


I am a very unobservant person. Oftentimes it is several months before I notice a new business or a new landmark. Not this time. I saw Afghani food mentioned on a sign and I was suddenly very aware. As in, checking every other day to see if the place had opened yet.

Ali Baba's takes over the small, nondescript place at the corner of 7th & L streets that had formerly been occupied by an Indian restaurant. In its first couple of days I saw it was open and immediately stopped in to try them out. 

My first visit was for a quick lunch. I would immediately note that you may want to consider take-out if you are crunched for time. Even though it is counter order service, this is still a seated lunch that includes a small salad before your meal arrives. Said salad is a simple tossed green salad with a yogurt based dressing.

I have a problem with my eyes being bigger than my stomach, especially when I want to try one of everything. I thought I would solve that problem by ordering two appetizers. I ended up with quite a bit of (lovely) food.

My order was for Samosas and for Mantoo.  First out was the samosas, meat filled with a side of cilantro chutney. There were three small ones which had a firm, rather than flakey crust. This is the one item that I would like to see improved. I would prefer two larger ones with a different crust. Still, they were a tasty start.

I had ordered the Mantoo which is Afghani style raviolis filled with onion and ground lamb, topped with yogurt. The kitchen got my ordered confused and instead sent out Aushak, same style raviolis, but filled with seasoned leeks. Lucky for me! The chef noticed the order and had them bring out my Mantoo, which I got to take home with me for dinner!

the kabobs on traditional skewers
Both the Mantoo and Aushak use the same delicate wrappers that are pinched closed into little purses (see top picture). They also have the same yogurt and tomato sauces garnished on top. And both are delicious!  Not only that, but if this was appetizer size, I'd hate see what entree size is.  Actually, though, I think the only difference is that the entree comes with a side of vegetables. Being that I'm a meat eater, I prefer the Mantoo. But put either of those in front of me and I love them both.

The location of Ali Baba is not one that one notice without a wary eye. Don't judge a book by its cover. Although the front is very small with three small window tables, there is a back dining room. What is a bit odd is that the kitchen is separated into two parts, making it a bit of an awkward running back and forth between the two sides. What they need is pass through window. 

Khushiwal and Aziz

The restaurant is owned by two cousins. Obaid Khushiwal manages the front of the house while Basir Aziz is the master of the kitchen. Both men are very friendly and were happy to talk about their place and Basir's culinary past. 

this bread is about a yard long
I knew that this place was special when I tasted the food, but the thought was cemented when I asked about details of some menu items, such as, he used to bake all his own Afghani bread but now buys it from an Afghani bakery located in West Sacramento. But he still makes his own cheese, more on this later.

Turns out Basir has had several restaurants over the years. Kabul Kabob, on J Street, was his creation before he sold it around 2005. That location serves lunch and dinner and a lunch buffet It sounded like he got tired of cranking out the endless buffet items. He then opened a place in Folsom on East Bidwell, also very popular. He sold that one after an unfortunate slip on a tomato injured his back. Being on your feet all day cooking is not fun with a bad back and as we chatted, Basir is sitting in a chair. 

I had come in for lunch earlier in the day. This time I wanted to taste their version of kufta - ground beef mixed with spices and then formed into meatballs or onto skewers.  This version was meatballs and was served over a seasoned basmati rice with  the flavorful tomato sauce. The two meatballs were hefty but tender and the delicate rice was a nice accompaniment.

I chose the Rasmalayee for dessert. It's described as an Afghani cheesecake served with a cardamom sweetened cream. For those with expectations of New York cheesecake, this is not for you.  The cheese is very firm and has a grittier texture. I asked Basir what type of cheese he used and he told me he makes it himself with a mixture of whole, 2%, and half and half. If you can adjust to the texture, than you can enjoy it as the sweetened cream makes it quite refreshing, although a bit rich. An easier dessert for Westerners may be the Firni, which is a rice pudding with the cardamom sweetened cream. 

Against a wall I notice an unplugged rotisserie, the vertical type used for mounting the rotating mound of meat used for gyros. In front is this sign explaining the different names for schwarma - gyro, doner, kabob. Basir says that he'll get that going soon. I'll be curious to see how close it comes to the ones I grew up with in Saudi Arabia.

I'm thrilled to see Ali Baba's open and nearby for me to walk to for lunch. I'm sure I'll be visiting Basir and Obaid on a regular basis.

629 L St.
Currently open lunches only

When I started this food blog six years ago there were only about 8 food bloggers in Sacramento. Now there are close to 50. The Sacramento food blogger community is a close-knit one. Many of us know each other, help each other out, and work together on many projects. There's no crazy competitiveness. I love the food blogger community here for that wonderful feeling of cooperation and support.

The most impressive thing is that many of us have turned our passion for food into projects or events that benefit the whole region. I wanted to introduce some of my friends/colleagues and their projects.

Amber Stott and the CA Food Literacy Center

A few weeks ago I told you about my friend Amber Stott.  Her blog is Awake at the Whisk and she is an avid gardener and vegetarian. She created the California Food Literacy Center only two years ago. It has grown by leaps, bounds, and influence and last December Amber was even named one of Sacramento's Top 40 Under 40

The mission of the California Food Literacy Center is "To inspire change today for a healthy, sustainable tomorrow through enduring community food education." They do so by educating children on making proper food choices and helping them to learn about food and where it comes from. 

Last summer she was able to get the State of California to declare September as Food Literacy Month. This week she helped coordinate the State of the Regional Food System summit. It was there that she was presented with a CA Assembly Resolution of thanks from Assemblyman Roger Dickinson. 

I am happy to be working with Amber for next month's Sacramento Food Film Festival. Some of the proceeds will go toward her California Food Literacy Center.

Ann Martin Rolke and Tasty Books

I met Ann several years ago when we were in a dinner group together. Her background is culinary in nature with stints in restaurants. But since I've known her she has been working as a cookbook editor. You never really think about such things, but when a cookbook gets published, it needs someone to test every recipe, make sure the recipes are written in easy to follow directions, and to look at typical editing things like grammar and formatting. Ann also has her own cookbook, Hands-off Cooking, which has several recipes that I really love and make over and over. 

It's no wonder, then, that her newest project revolves around cookbooks. Tasty Books will be a quarterly series of events that pair book signings and lectures with prix fixe dinners. The first one is on February 27th at Mulvaney's B&L and will feature the book Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables with author Cheryl Sternman Rule. (Tickets) Ripe is uniquely divided into sections by color of produce and is meant to “embrace the vegetable, behold the fruit”. 

I'm always up for food events, so I look forward to see what is next on the Tasty Books calendar.

Rodney Blackwell and the Sacramento Burger Battle

Burgers are a thing of beauty for Rodney Blackwell, aka @Burgerjunkies on Twitter and the name of his blog. He's a great photographer and many of the photos of burgers he eats are often used by the restaurants. Usually his first choice when visiting a new restaurant will be to try their burger. 

Last year he went to the Denver Burger Battle and decided to create the Sacramento Burger Battle to help his favorite charity, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. One of his daughter's suffers from Crohn's Disease and so it was his way of supporting the organization.

The Sacramento Burger Battle was the best first-time event I have ever been to. Rodney took care of every detail and put on a fabulous, flawless event that raised over $25,000! He even managed to have it become a qualifying event for the World Food Championship in Las Vegas. Winner David Hill of the Chef's Table moved on to compete there in November and represented well, placing 5th out of 22 contestants.

It all occurred on the baseball field at Raley Field last September. It was a wonderful venue and a lot of fun. I actually can't wait for the second one coming up on September 18, 2013.

Garrett McCord (and Stephanie Stiavetti) and Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese

Six years ago Garrett was one of those handful of first Sacramento food bloggers. I remember being thrilled when he and Elise Bauer of invited me to a local food blogger potluck.  

Garrett's blog, Vanilla Garlic, is a must read. His wit and insightful look at the world is so entertaining that every post I read makes me envious of his writing skills. He often teaches writing classes around town and at food blogger conferences.

For him and his co-author, Stephanie Stiavetti, 2012 was a year of endless macaroni and cheese. That's because they are coming out with Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese next October. "A cookbook about making macaroni and cheese using artisan and farmstead cheeses." Currently they are undergoing final proofing with the publisher. Many a bookshelf will be holding that book since Americans have a definite obsession with this particular comfort food. Be sure to click on the link to pre-order and then watch out for his signing events around town. Next month he and Stephanie will be speaking (Saturday, March 23) at the Artisan Cheese Festival in Petaluma. 

Hank Shaw and Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast

Hank Shaw is known throughout the country as one of the top experts on foraging. In 2011 he published Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast  and toured the country talking about foraging and living off the bounty of the land. He was able to publish the book after years of success and two James Beard nominations for his blog, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.  

Hank also gives foraging tours, one of which I took last year. Thanks to Hank, I was able to forage my own elderflowers last year and make syrup from them that I use for my shrubs and kombucha sodas. 

Hank will be speaking at Bows & Arrows on March 6th for Words Aloud (tickets). Look next fall for his next book, Duck, the Cookbook

How fortunate are we to live in the Farm to Fork Capital and have so many passionate, proactive food bloggers? Sacramento is blessed with a fantastic food community and I am so proud to be associated with it.


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It's almost a year since we held the first Sacramento Food Film Festival. Last year I worked with Slow Food Sacramento and Whole Foods Market to put on a great day of films. Everyone enjoyed it so much that we are ready to do it again - this time over two days!

This year Slow Food Sacramento is presenting the film festival, thus the altered snail logo. We are also partnering with the California Food Literacy Center. Their mission is "To inspire change today for a healthy, sustainable tomorrow through enduring community food education." It's very much in line with Slow Food's.

Our goal this time was to provide more opportunities for discussion/interaction instead of just sitting in a theater watching film after film until your butt is sore. I'm very proud of what we've come up with. 


Friday night is our gala event. It starts off with the film Quest for Local Honey 
which was filmed up in Nevada County. The filmmakers will be there for discussion afterwards with some local honeys to taste. 

Everyone then moves around the corner to the 40 Acres Gallery for a sushi event. Enjoy sushi from Mikuni and Kru restaurants. Taro will be there to talk about sushi making and Bill Ngo will talk about sustainable fish.

The evening then ends back at the theater for Jiro Dreams of Sushi.  We are thrilled that Mikuni stepped up to sponsor this award winning documentary about the most famous sushi chef in Japan. I had tried to get the film for last year's festival, but it was too new. I think we are better off for having waited as we now get to watch sushi and eat it too!

The ticket for Friday is $40.  Should there still be space left, individual tickets for films alone are $7 each.


Once again Whole Foods Market will be supplying healthy movie snacks at the concession stand.
The first film on Saturday starts at 11:30 and is geared to young people interested in where their food comes from.  What's On Your Plate?  follows two 11-year olds as they discover the complexities of our food system.  The California Food Literacy Center will be creating a scavenger hunt that will revolve around this and the other festival films with prizes awarded at the end of the day.

Next up is  A Community of Gardeners  which is followed by a discussion with Master Gardener Bill Maynard. He will answer questions on community gardens - from how to create a one  to how to get seeds started this spring.

Meat Hooked!  is being sponsored by our friends at the Selland Family Restaurants (Ella, The Kitchen, Selland Market Cafes).  It won Best Feature Film at last October's New York Food Film Festival.  Meat Hooked! is a look at the history and evolution of New York butcher shops.

Symphony of the Soil is a brand new documentary that discusses one of our most important but often ignored resources - soil. Without healthy, rich soil we would not be able to grow food which in turn feeds livestock and ourselves.

The final film is American Harvest.    It brings up the state of our agricultural system in terms of labor - migrant farmworkers, be they illegal immigrants or citizens.  We finish off the evening with a panel discussion about where farm labor stands today, how it influences supply and resources, and what may be changing in the future.

Saturday tickets are $25 or $7 for individual films. You can get a Festival ticket, good for both days, for $55. Ticket sales.

We wish to thank our sponsors for this year, especially Elise at Also, Whole Foods Market, Mikuni , Selland Family Restaurants, Kru , Sunh Fish, Passmore Ranch, Attune Foods, and the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op.

For anyone who follows the Foodmob Facebook page, you have seen that there's some changes going on. You probably didn't know exactly what, but you could tell things were happening. 

First, for the public, there is a new website. is all new and includes the daily schedule and more. One section that will be growing is the Store which will sell things like apparel and food stuffs from the trucks, like jams, salsas, and BBQ sauce.

But what's more important is what's going on behind the scenes with the truck owners. 

In January the leadership team met with all the Foodmob related truck owners and presented them with the new layout for Foodmob. First, it's now a non-profit organization with a tax i.d. number. Money collected via dues and fees will go to things like signs/banners, tables, chairs, awnings, leasing of spaces, website, bookkeeping, etc.

Next, the Code of Conduct was discussed. All member trucks are expected to abide by it. These are always listed on the website and are:
  • Conduct business in a professional manner at all times.
  • Ensure Food Safety at all times.
  • Refraining from negative activity or speech in public or in print. It reflects badly on all members of FOODMOB.
  • Vendors will always leave a sales area in the same or better condition than when they arrived.
  • Any problems with a location will be addressed through FOODMOB management.
  • Must arrive at schedule location ready to serve in scheduled time slot and stay for the duration of assigned time, unless cleared with client or FOODMOB management.
  • ​Prep and set-up shall be conducted out side of  the scheduled time slot.
  • Promptly acknowledging and taking appropriate action on all customer concerns.
  • Refraining from any act intended to restrain trade or suppress competition.
  • Attaining and retaining insurance as required by state,county  and/or local authorities.
  • Attaining and retaining licensing and/or registration as required by state, county and/or local authorities.

This is important to you, the consumer, especially if you choose to book one or more Foodmob trucks for your event. We want you to know that we are going to strictly enforce our Code of Conduct and our membership criteria to ensure professionalism and quality. Also, by booking via Foodmob, you get one point of contact instead of having to deal with several contacts if you book more than one truck. Finally, Foodmob never asks for a booking fee from the client. It is our privilege to be able to come and bring our food to you.

Being in a group also offers both stability and support for the trucks. Foodmob is meant to supplement the trucks' schedules, not to be their scheduler. All trucks are expected to find their own daily business, but they can count on Foodmob should they need to fill a hole on their schedule. This is done by a set of client based locations that we have formal agreements with. We rotate our trucks at these locations so that all trucks have an equal opportunity and there is a constant diversity of food for the clients so they don't get bored. 

This rotation sharing fosters a sense of trust and camaraderie amongst our members. They know they can call another truck to cover a location should they suffer a breakdown or illness. They share new locations with each other and Foodmob. Instead of fighting over spots, there is a coordinated effort where trucks can know where each other is going each day.

Foodmob is also able to negotiate better as a group organization. We've been able to negotiate some contracts with certain groups/locations that proved to be better than what the trucks had been able to negotiate individually.  

As I said, the new Foodmob membership agreement was presented to the truck owners late last month. This week they send in their agreements. Some trucks have already declined membership. That's fine and we wish them well. But we also have many trucks that see the benefit of a group like this. 

So far they include: OraleMole Fuzion Eatz, Papa Dale's Diner, Om Karmabile, The Pizza Company, Squeeze Inn Truck , Off the Mapp Espresso , New Bite Catering, All Angle Catering, Cajun Wagon, Miz Shirley's, Bacon Mania, Sun Pizza, Pizza Box, Mama Kim's, OMG Yogurt, Mustache Mike's Italian Ice and even some trucks that are still in the shop being prepped for the streets.

Foodmob looks forward to doing business with you!  The Foodmob phone number is 916-394-6567. Email is

I have way too many tortillas. As a single gal I don't have much need to cook. Too many leftovers and just plain laziness. But I came home one day to find a package full of Mission's new Super Soft Tortillas. Inside were packages of small, medium, and large of these new flour tortillas for me to try.

Mission is asking food bloggers to give the new Super Soft Tortillas a try and to come up with new recipes. I wanted to do something different and decided to adapt an old recipe from my Pampered Chef days and tweak it for use with the tortillas. These tortillas are definitely soft. I figured they would work really well for a sweet, pastry like treatment.

For this recipe I used my Pampered Chef Apple Peeler Corer Slicer and my Mini Stoneware Baker. Feel free to use a pie plate and just peel, core, and slice by hand.

Apple Tortilla Bake

Super Soft Mission Tortillas - small size
2 Granny Smith apples
1 large orange
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Peel, core, and slice apples. Cut slices in half.
Zest 1 teaspoon orange zest. Mix together sugar, cinnamon, and zest together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Using a pasty brush, brush butter on the bottom of an 8" baker or pie plate. Place one tortilla in the plate. Brush with butter.

Place one layer of apple slices on top of the tortilla. Sprinkle with some of the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Place another tortilla on top of the apples. Brush with butter and add another of apples and cinnamon sugar.

Place a third tortilla on top. Brush with butter and then sprinkle with the rest of the cinnamon sugar.

Juice the orange. Pour the orange juice over and around the sides of the tortilla stack.

Bake 25 minutes. Serve with whipped or ice cream.

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